With a Bit of Menthol

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As everyone knows by now, one of my very favorite activities is defending myself against charges of racism and/or racial insensitivity on the Internet. I have decided that this will be periodically necessary, at least until I die, but I attribute this more to cosmic forces than to any nefarious plot on the part of anyone. The karmic kickback appears to involve the ongoing culture war debate about homosexuality somehow. My last go-round was with Anthony Bradley, around the time of the Bloomington showdown, and this little fandango was right after my debate with Andrew Sullivan.

Since the homosexual thing isn’t going anywhere, and since I do not intend to shut up about it, I anticipate that I will also be explaining that I believe racism to be a grievous, gospel-denying sin, right up until the waters of the river Jordan are lapping at the toes of my boots. If you want to get Christians to apologize for certain verses in Leviticus, what better way than to start by getting them to apologize for other verses in Leviticus? But I digress.

So there are reasonable and good reasons why I will have to give this explanation from here on out, and I do not resent it. It is spiritually healthy for one, at least for one such as myself, to be reminded from time to time that a number of the saints out there think I am a blockhead. It is sort of bracing, with a bit of menthol in it.

I was recently involved in an exchange with a South African friend, who had explained that, in his circles, as soon as he acknowledged that blacks should be able to come to the Lord’s Table in an all-white church, he would be immediately tagged. “I am a liberal.” To which another friend responded, “Be a liberal then.” This is a sentiment with which I enthusiastically agree, provided we are also willing to say, in a liberal setting, that as soon as he expresses opposition to the ordination of practicing homosexuals, and the inevitable accusation comes that “he is a racist,” the godly exhortation to him will be, “Be a racist then.”

Of course, in the sight of God, we should be neither. But we are not talking about what we are willing to be, but rather what we are willing to be called. If we are seeking to be faithful to God and His Word, we should not give a rip about what arbitrary labels and values are attached to us by anybody else. As my father recently said at our Sabbath dinner, ” No sense dying with a good reputation.” My daughter asked him, “You think you have a good reputation, grandpa?” “Better than it ought to be,” he said.

I have said for some time that America is long overdue for an adult conversation about race. And by adult conversation, I do not mean white people being patronizing and telling blacks to “get over it,” and I do not mean privileged blacks playing the victim card a lot more poorly than did their grandparents, who were the actual victims of a lot more stupid gunk. Please note that this is not a strident defense of any contemporary gunk.

I grew up in a segregated city, one that had one school system for blacks and one for whites. The 1964 Civil Rights case came down when I was eleven years old. I went to the white elementary school, and to the old black high school as a middle school after integration. A number of white families bailed as part of the “white flight” toward private education. My father refused to have anything to do that, a stand for which our family has always been the right kind of proud. We lived right smack in the middle of that potboiler called sixties race relations, and we were with the good guys. I went to the white elementary school a mile or two away, and my sister, three years younger, was virtually the only white kid in her elementary school just down the hill from us. I therefore don’t appreciate men who make a point of telling us they know about the damage that can be caused by superficial judgments, but who go ahead and make them anyway because the colors are different, but every bit as superficial.

Unfortunately, the more we have a need for an adult conversation, the less capable we seem to be of actually having one. For a conversation needs to have more involved in it than one side venting grievances, or the other side blithely pretending that nothing bad ever happened. There are whites who do that, but I have not been in their number. A conversation needs to have both sides able to talk, it needs both sides to speak with respect, and it needs both sides to listen with respect. The only way this is possible is through the blood of Jesus Christ, in whom all racial bigotries and resentments must die.

So, speaking of having such a conversation, let me reiterate the invitation that I gave to Anthony Bradley when this issue surfaced the last time. This invitation goes to Bryan Loritts, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Eric Mason, and is reissued to Anthony Bradley. You are welcome to fly to Moscow at anytime, on our dime, in order to have that conversation. We can have it in public or in private, and it will be a conversation, not a brawl. If you come out we will find or create a venue for you to minister to us, and that will be in addition to our conversation. If that won’t work out, then why don’t you issue me an invitation to come have that conversation where you are? I will do what I can to make it.

The conversation should center on the blood of Christ. The blood of Jesus makes it possible for the white bigot to repent of his idiotic sense of superiority. One of the things that the cross of Jesus crucifies is every form of preening racial conceit. It astounds me that there are people who think that I don’t believe that.

The blood of Jesus also makes it possible for the white liberal to repent of his exasperating and cloying insistence on a soft bigotry of low expectations, coupled with his destructive subsidies of all the wrong things in the black community. But the blood of Jesus makes it possible for the liberal to repent of Margaret Sanger’s war on black children in utero. In addition, it requires that he repent of celebrating, and giving awards to, those rap thugs who want to teach America’s next generation to think of black women as bitches and ho’s who are supposed to be beneath contempt. In the face of this demolition job being run on the black family by progressivism, with black children killed by the million, and black women publicly degraded by black men, and other black men standing by letting them, let’s get out there and rebuke the three remaining people who think that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. Way to keep the priorities straight.

Brothers, I don’t have a problem with you standing up for and protecting your people. I do have a problem with your failure to do so.

The blood of Jesus makes it possible for those many blacks who have experienced genuine hostility, animosity, mistreatment, and injustice at the hands of whites to forgive their enemies as Jesus taught all Christians to do. There has been much to forgive, and may God richly bless every saint who has been enabled by the grace of God to do so.

The blood of Jesus enables certain other blacks to repent of their opportunism. I speak of those who play the perpetual victim even though they have never experienced anything worse than a two-day delay in their most recent affirmative action promotion. These are blacks who yell at those who judge them for the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, like somebody is supposed to have said once. I think it was supposed to have been important, but I am not sure anymore. Opportunism is a sin to repent of, and it is one of those things that makes an adult conversation about race so difficult. But the fact that many people can’t afford to say anything about it doesn’t mean they can’t see it.

And incidentally, if someone takes the fact that I wrote the previous paragraph as clear evidence that I could not have written the one before that, then that someone is being a big demonstration of the kind of problem we have. Such folks are not interested in history as it happened, but are big fans of history that “hurts their feelings.”

And this shows the shift from an earlier charge that I am a racist to this recent charge that I am racially insensitive. The charge of racism is harder to prove because there are still some people out there who think that such a charge should be backed up with some sort of objective verification. But racial insensitivity can easily be demonstrated, simple pimple, by the one making the charge being hurt or grieved, and who are we to say he isn’t?

But I would nonetheless like to take this opportunity to reply something along the lines of ha! to both charges. If charged with racial felonies, or racial misdemeanors, I don’t have to worry about it. I can go to bed tonight, as I will do, with my conscience functioning as one of those new pillows that stay fluffed up all night, enveloped in a crisp, white pillow case, right out of the dryer. And lest anybody make anything of the fact that I said white pillow case, I will simply observe that this what color they usually are.

So then, there is the backdrop. I took as long to respond to Bryan Loritts’ post reviewing my book Black & Tan because I was on the road, and the place we were staying had Internet that was down among the wines and spirits. When it comes to interacting with how he misrepresented my statements and position, I will be brief. If you want to read at length, the book is here. If you just want to know what I think about racism, racial malice or racial vainglory, this one quote will give you a taste. There are many others throughout the book.

“All sin, if it is indeed sin, is sin against God. It is God’s character and law which are offended by sin. We maintain that racism is a sin against God, and that it will be judged in the light of His holiness at the last day . . . God hates it and He always will . . . This means that regeneration, in the sense I am speaking of here, must include rejection of every form of racial hatred, animosity or vainglory” (Black & Tan, location 236ff).

To finish, let me state that my earlier invitation to meet and converse was sincere and genuine. No guile. If someone thinks I have grace and race mixed up, I invite them to tell me they think that. But I would like them to look me straight in the eye when they do.

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11 years ago

I understand that this is a very sensitive issue. But what I do not understand is how Bryan Lorrits can enter this debate? I have yet to see a public apology for his racist remarks about “old reformed white guys”? He only deleted his blog and remarks that had racial overtones and did not offer an apology. So until Bryan Lorrits apologizies for his racial remarks why would anyone listen to him when it comes to racial issues? I guess saying racial remarks against “Old reformed white guys” is fair game?

11 years ago

Steve, you can’t be serious. Have you read ‘Black and Tan’?